With the wedding planning over, the pair of you can finally relax and head off for a well-earned break and some much-needed downtime to enjoy those first few days of wedded bliss under sunny skies. This is one bit of the matrimonial adventure that really is all about you. Your post-nuptial vacation is probably the most romantic – not to mention expensive – holiday you’re likely to have. And by putting a little forethought and effort into the honeymoon planning now, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be the one holiday you’ll never forget.
Planning a honeymoon – where to begin?
Practicalities, chaps. Without your basic holiday preparation in order, quite frankly you’re a bit buggered before you really get started (bearing in mind this is your first official test as a married man, that’s probably not going to look so great). So things to consider:
- Plan early – We can’t stress this one enough. Honeymoon planning takes time. Yes there might be some great last minute bargains to be had, but this is one occasion where you really can’t afford to wing it at the last minute. For a start you’ve also got the small matter of a wedding to plan. You’ll also need time to discuss ideas, get your choices booked, sort your paperwork and make sure you’ve got your cash covered. Be aware top notch rooms and properties get booked up well in advance, especially during the popular summer, Christmas and New Year seasons, so it pays to be ahead of the game. Not only will early booking give you a much broader range to choose from, you’ll probably benefit from some great early bird discounts to boot.
- Book time off – Like it or not, your Guv’ is going to have a hefty say in exactly how long this gig will be, so a fair old chunk of your planning rests on the answer. Be aware when looking at time frames that you’ll need to factor in wedding preparation (your lovely lady will almost certainly need a few days grace before the event), the big day itself, travelling time and maybe even allowances for jet lag to boot. Work out how long you’d ideally like the honeymoon to be, and make sure you’ve given yourself enough of a cushion for prep and air time as well.
- When do you want to go? – Are you a hopeless romantic intent on whisking your bride straight to sun-soaked shores? Do you want to give yourselves a day or so to recover from your nuptials? ‘Mini-moons’ are an increasingly popular option, with couples choosing to take a few quiet days away immediately after the wedding, and save the full bells and whistles honeymoon for a later date. Ruddy ridiculous name? Yes. But a superb choice if budget or seasonal practicalities like weather are a problem.
- Budget – As ever, the moolah matters. First up, work out exactly how much you’ll have to fund your post-nuptial vacation. Don’t forget to factor in all likely expenses, including hotels, air fares, car rentals, sightseeing trips, activities and insurance as well as the minor details that can easily tally up: bar tabs, taxis, souvenirs, the flowery sarong your manly wardrobe can’t do without. Check if your honeymoon package is an all-inclusive deal, with food and drink paid for, or whether you’ll have to fork out separately. Also make sure you know the full details on deposits, and how and when final payments need to be made.
- AGREE! – Figure out what your main aim is here: Do you want cracking weather? An all action-adventure holiday? Top flight resort? A once in a lifetime blow the budget and to hell with the bills type affair? It goes without saying you need to plan the honeymoon so it works for both of you. Yes, you might well want to grab your shades and mankini, kick back with a flowery pink cocktail and top up your tan for a week, but if your new wife wants to try a spot of jet-skiing or diving with sharks, you might well be on for your first marital spat. Compromise is the key to this one. Sit down, make sure you’re on the same page, and hit on a location that works well for both of you.
Honeymoon planning – choosing a destination
If there’s only ever been one choice for location, that’s half the battle won, so get a move on and book it and it’s just a case of packing your Speedos. If you’re still undecided, bear in mind this really is the one holiday you’ll never forget, so you want it to be memorable for the right reasons. A few points to cover:
- Timeframe – Keep an eye on the number of days you’ve got to play with. Round the world trips are a great shout, but not if you’ve only got a week’s holiday at your disposal. Don’t forget to factor travelling time into your decision. Opt for a far flung corner of the world and that’s a couple of days taken out of your schedule already. Long haul vs short haul – the honeymoon destination will depend heavily on the amount of time you can wangle off work.
- Seasonal weather and events – You’ve seen what happens when you’ve nodded your way through sixteen outfits, five hairstyles, three pairs of shoes and finally get out of the door only for the heavens to open and your mild-mannered missus to suddenly develop a full-on Exorcist meltdown. Care to take pot luck on hurricane or monsoon season?
Ok, we’re kidding (sort of) but you do need to do your homework on this one, especially if your dream destination is well known for taking a seasonal battering from the elements. holidaysplease.co.uk and kuoni.co.uk provide a great month-by-month guide of the best locations to visit, while marryabroad.co.uk and the Met Office offer cracking rundowns on climate, humidity and individual dry, rainy and hurricane seasons across the globe.
You might need to weigh up the pros and cons and decide which factor makes for the top priority; jetting off to a particular location, or taking your honeymoon immediately after the wedding?
If you’re set on a specific destination but the wedding falls smack bang in the middle of that location’s hurricane season, it might pay to hold off on the big event until you know you’re not likely to take a quick spin through exotic skies courtesy of Mother Nature.
Similarly, if you head down the traditional route and want to jet off as soon as that knot has been tied, you might need to be flexible on destination according to the time of year.
- Calendar clashes – It’s also a good idea to be aware of any major sporting, religious, or cultural events to either factor into plans, or to work your holiday to avoid. But please be advised: there are as yet no confirmed statistics available on how many grooms have suggested working footie fixtures into the honeymoon and lived to tell the tale. Mostly because we were too scared to ask any brides….. but we’re fairly sure the numbers wouldn’t be too promising.
- Logistics – ‘Some destinations can only be reached on certain days due to airline schedules’, point out luxury travel experts Kuoni. Be aware some locations also only run early morning flights as standard, so depending on the actual day of your wedding, and just how much coffee, bacon or servings of McDonald’s greasiest it’ll take to bring you back to humanity the next morning, it might pay to treat your new wife to a couple of nights at a swanky UK hotel before jetting off.
- Single or multi-location? – How many destinations do you want to fit in? If it’s all about jumping into new cultures and you’re on for a lengthy honeymoon with the funds to match, travel experts Conde Nast are quick to point out that ‘there are some great ‘twin centres’ to choose from. Top recommended tag-teams include Thailand/Maldives, South Africa/Mauritius, and Tahiti/New Zealand mega-mixes.
- Top ten honeymoon destinations, according to Kuoni
2) Sri Lanka
3) United Arab Emirates
9) St Lucia
More advice on honeymoon ideas and essentials…